The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of emergency services policy in the 2019 General Assembly.
County governments lead the delivery of public safety services in Maryland – with responsibility for county fire, police, and emergency services. MACo’s advocacy in the area of emergency services includes urging needed state support for county public safety services such as 9-1-1 call centers, and natural disaster response, and ensuring that all first responders have the flexibility, support, and technology needed to execute their missions.
Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database.
One of MACo’s initiatives this Session was to advance Maryland’s Next Generation 9-1-1 Systems. Updating state laws, and the 9-1-1 financing system, to provide the flexibility and resources needed for this important step is a public safety priority affecting every part of Maryland. County governments lead 9-1-1 service in Maryland, and are responsible for all of the State’s primary public safety answering points. MACo is exceedingly pleased that 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System (Carl Henn’s Law), landmark legislation to deliver the Next Generation 9-1-1 service that our residents expect and deserve, passed both the House and the Senate and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
MACo supported with amendments legislation to increase compensation and benefits for 9-1-1 Center employees. As amended, 9-1-1 Specialists – Compensation and Benefits:
- Expands eligibility of an existing local property tax credit for 9-1-1 public safety telecommunicators.
- Expresses that it is the intent of the General Assembly that jurisdictions employing 9-1-1 specialists appropriately classify and compensate workers.
MACo’s amendments allow county self-determination and “local option” offerings to these public servants by converting the legislation’s initial subtraction modification elements to credits against the State income tax and allowing counties to determine county property tax credits. This legislation passed and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
Reasonable Regulation of Amateur Radio
MACo opposed legislation that would have undermined local planning and zoning authority with regard to amateur radio towers. Federal law allows for state and local regulation of a station antenna structure that reasonably accommodates radio communications and constitutes the minimum practicable regulation to accomplish the state or local authority’s legitimate purpose. This legislation would have codified a preemption of local ordinances. Regulation of Amateur Radio Station Antenna Structures, received an unfavorable report from the House Environment and Transportation Committee and was withdrawn.
Flood Management Funding
MACo supported legislation to mandate an annual $5 million State appropriation to the comprehensive flood management grant program. This bill will allow counties and municipalities that have incurred more than $1 million in flood damage since 2009 to receive grant funding for a range of uses, including debris removal and emergency protection. Comprehensive Flood Management Grant Program – Awards for Flood Damage and Mandatory Funding passed the General Assembly and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
Volunteer Fire Company Shortages
MACo supported legislation to create a workgroup on staffing issues relating to the State’s volunteer fire companies. Maryland’s county elected officials have serious concerns regarding persistent staffing shortages in the volunteer fire service. This legislation’s task force would have reviewed current recruitment practices, evaluated recruitment impediments, and studied recruitment best practices in other states. Unfortunately, the Task Force on Volunteer Fire Companies and Rescue Squads did not advance out of its Committee.